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OPENING-DAY FLOP


February 16. 2013 9:39PM


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STATE COLLEGE -- Bill O'Brien said little. Eight full months of being thrust into the spotlight meant he had to spend most of his time talking, talking, talking.


After finally getting to return to the sideline and coach a live game on Saturday, Penn State's new boss wasn't eager to start the conversation back up.


But what he did say stung more than any part of the Nittany Lions' demoralizing 24-14 loss to Ohio.


"They beat us," O'Brien said. "They were the better team."


It was the truth. The up-and-coming team from the MAC was better than the humbled Lions on Saturday, taking over the game in the second half.


The enthusiastic start from a spirited pregame atmosphere and a 14-3 halftime lead quickly evaporated as the Bobcats took control on both sides of the ball after the break.


It was Penn State's first loss in a season opener since 2001 against Miami. It was the Lions' first loss to a MAC opponent since Toledo in 2000.


And it left O'Brien -- largely upbeat through a miserable offseason bogged down by fallout from scandal and sanctions -- in a rotten mood.


"I've gotta coach a lot better," O'Brien said repeatedly. "We have to coach better, and it starts with me."


His players were quick to defend him.


Quarterback Matt McGloin, the centerpiece of O'Brien's new offense, disagreed that the blame lay with the new coaching staff.


"Not at all. He did a great job today," McGloin said of O'Brien. "It's on us (players), definitely. We couldn't make the plays when we needed to."


"I think it's very important that we're all accountable," guard John Urschel said.


Just two hours earlier, O'Brien was smiling through a halftime TV interview as he came off the field.


His offense was running smoothly as McGloin threw touchdowns to tailback Bill Belton and tight end Matt Lehman.


His defense held an up-tempo Ohio offense to just a field goal.


His special teams, thanks to Valley View's Nyeem Wartman, even blocked a punt.


It was precisely the start the Lions (0-1) were looking for in their first season that opened without Joe Paterno on the sideline in some capacity since 1949.


And then...


"I think the (offensive line) was able to take control of the game. I think we wore them down a little bit," Ohio's veteran coach, Frank Solich, said. "I think our pace maybe did take a toll (on Penn State) and helped us in the game."


Indeed, it was the Bobcats (1-0) who looked like the team from a major conference, controlling the line of scrimmage and draining the life out of the Lions.


Sparked by a fluky pass that bounced out of the hands of safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and right to Ohio's Landon Moore for a 43-yard touchdown, Ohio quickly rallied.


A 14-10 deficit then turned into a 17-14 lead when Bobcats star Tyler Tettleton scored on a QB sneak at the goal line on his next drive.


Tettleton proceeded to drive his team 93 yards on 12 plays late in the fourth quarter to put Penn State away, capping it off with a 5-yard touchdown pass.


The Bobcats faced 12 third-down plays in the second half. They converted 11 of them.


"I'm very disappointed in that," senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. "You won't see that (again) all season. I'll tell you that now. No other team will do that to us again."


On offense, McGloin finished with career highs in completions (27) and attempts (48), throwing for 260 yards and two scores. Sophomore receiver Allen Robinson, after catching just three passes all of last season, hauled in nine for 97 yards Saturday.


But while McGloin was successful running the up-tempo offense in the first 30 minutes, things dried up in the final 30.


"They started bringing some more heat, playing some different coverages," McGloin said. "But nothing we weren't ready for. We were prepared for everything that they showed us. We just didn't get the job done."


Penn State reached the Ohio 30 in the third quarter with a chance to build on a 14-10 lead. But a fourth-and-5 pass intended for Robinson was overthrown.


Ohio took the ball from there, scored and never relinquished the lead.


"We didn't win the game, and it comes down to me being the head football coach," O'Brien said. "I have to get this team ready to play. I told them in the locker room it's a long season. This is one game. We have to learn from our mistakes. We can still be a good football team.


"I told them the number one priority is I'm going to come to work tomorrow and do a better job for them."


INSIDE

• Unlucky play got ball rolling against Penn State.



6C


• Newest Lions play well.



6C


• More photos.



6C


• Notre Dame has no problem sinking Navy.



5C


• Wilkes wins defensive struggle.



7C


• Tough loss for King's.



7C



 


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